Teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski make contact bringing out the caution flag early in the running at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch reacts to a blog that Brad Keselowski wrote about the relationship between the two drivers in March.
Kevin Harvick finishes second for eighth straight top-two finish RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings FONTANA, Calif. -- After Sunday's Auto Club 400 , there may be a warrant issued for Brad Keselowski . After all, the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford committed his own version of "Grand Theft Auto" at Auto Club Speedway -- he stole an entire race. Benefitting from a four-tire call on the last lap of regulation and two opportune cautions that extended the event nine laps beyond its scheduled distance, Keselowski passed polesitter Kurt Busch on the final lap (209) and pulled away to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. Trying to make one last desperation run at Keselowski , Busch scraped the wall in the final corner at the two-mile track, allowing Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick to pass him for the runner-up spot. Keselowski arrived at the finish line .711 seconds ahead of Harvick, simultaneously taking the checkered flag and leading his first lap of the day. The 2012 champion, who led the series with six victories last year, recorded his first victory at Fontana -- and his first finish higher than 18th -- and the 17th of his career. "At the end, we caught some breaks, made the most of the breaks we caught," Keselowski said. "That was kind of the story of our race. It looked like we were probably going to finish sixth or seventh. That yellow came out (on Lap 185 for debris). We came in and pitted and drove up a little bit, then caught another yellow. Now what do we do? "So (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) made the call to come down pit road and put four tires on. When he said that, I said, 'This can either go really good or really bad.' Didn't know which one it was going to be. Some guys stayed out, some guys took two tires, all different types of strategies on the restart. "We were able to find our way through the lanes and get to the front there, somehow end up in Victory Lane leading the last lap. Kind of a race car driver's dream. This is one we're going to sit back and go 'Wow!' for a while." Keselowski can call it a break, but it was theft, pure and simple. Aside from a stretch before the halfway point where Denny Hamlin got out front in clean air and led 56 laps, the cars of Busch and Harvick dominated the race, leading 65 and 34 laps, respectively. But Keselowski ’s Wolfe made what turned out to be the winning call on Lap 200, after NASCAR called the sixth caution of the race because of debris in Turn 4. Opting for four new tires, where the vast majority of the field took right sides only for track position, Keselowski restarted 18th on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish on Lap 203. The No. 2 Fusion quickly moved forward. When Kyle Larson lost his bumper cover during a melee on the restart, NASCAR threw caution No. 7, and by then, Keselowski was already up to seventh place. Using the new tires to full advantage, Keselowski shot into second place like a lightning bolt after a green-white-checkered restart on Lap 208. As Greg Biffle crashed on the frontstretch on the white-flag lap, Keselowski rocketed past Busch off Turn 2 and pulled away for the win. Busch came home third, followed by Richard Childress Racing teammates Paul Menard and Ryan Newman . Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Joey Logano , Martin Truex Jr ., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon completed the top 10. Having won at Las Vegas and Phoenix in the previous two races, Harvick fell one position shy of completing a sweep of NASCAR's three-race West Coast swing, but he could commiserate with Busch, who was trying to win for the first time this season after serving a three-race suspension. "I hate that the 41 (Busch) wasn't able to hold on for the win there," said Harvick, who posted his eighth straight top-two finish, dating to last year, and extended his series lead over Logano to 28 points. "I would have loved to see those guys get their first win. "But you never know how the strategy is going to play out here. There's so many cars on the lead lap, you didn't want to get buried in there (by taking four tires). One little bad move for Brad , he would have been stuck in the middle of that traffic. But it all worked out for him. The second restart, he was in prime position up on the outside with fresh tires." Busch was disappointed but philosophical about the result. "It was a solid day," Busch said. "I don't know what we could have done different. We just got pinned in by the yellows and the sequence at the end on which tires we needed to have to optimize how many laps were left. "We had two tires; Keselowski had four. We didn't need that extra yellow at the end. That last restart, I just didn't get the job done, and I just got out muscled by Keselowski ." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today All-time consecutive top-two finishes Streak Driver Year 11 Richard Petty 1975 10 Richard Petty 1971 10 Richard Petty 1967 9 Richard Petty 1964 8 Kevin Harvick 2014-15 8 David Pearson 1968
Rash of late cautions derailed No. 2 team's Phoenix plan RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings AVONDALE, Ariz. -- With Kevin Harvick 's desert dominance on everyone's mind, strategy plays were the tactic of choice to potentially break up his monopoly. The No. 2 team of Brad Keselowski tried its hand with two such ploys, but it ultimately wasn't enough with how the cautions fell in the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday. Keselowski finished sixth, while Harvick won his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season and fourth straight at the 1-mile oval. Afterward, Keselowski lamented the fact that Chevrolet teams seem to have a little more speed than the other manufacturers right now. "We just didn't quite have enough speed," Keselowski said. "I thought we were about a third- or fourth-place car and got shuffled to finish where we did. It was a great effort. We have to keep working to find more speed. There are a lot of Chevys up there and we need to get our Fords running a tiny bit better." Team Penske 's No. 2 crew made two crucial strategy calls during the race. One worked out well, while circumstances disrupted the other. A caution on Lap 117 saw all the front-runners come down pit road, and Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe decided to take two tires. That lifted the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion from fourth place to the lead. From there the 31-year-old was out front for 52 laps -- 41 more than he had led in the season's previous three events. Through three races last year, Keselowski had led 69 laps and already had a race win to his credit. "We had that one run where we got out to the lead and led like 50 laps which was second to Harvick, that is something here," Keselowski said. Keselowski gave up the lead for good on Lap 171, but spent the next 50-plus laps in the top three. During his pit stop after the race's seventh caution on Lap 227, Keselowski shook up the strategy some more. This time, pitting from third place, Wolfe and Co. elected to put on four tires. The No. 2 restarted in 17th place on Lap 234, with the hope being a lengthy green-flag run would aid their chances of getting back to the front. However, three more cautions came out between the Lap 234 restart and the finish of the race, allowing drivers on older tires to keep track position near the front. Keselowski rose as high as fifth place on Lap 289, but fell back to sixth by the checkered flag as a surging Kurt Busch slipped past him for the final spot in the top five. "Everybody was on a different strategy it seemed, and it didn't quite pan out for us to get the third or fourth we deserved but we ran really well," Keselowski said. For the first time all season, Keselowski led more laps in a race than Team Penske teammate Joey Logano . And despite leading 35 circuits himself, Keselowski's younger teammate was direct in his assessment about whose car had the upper hand. " Brad had the better car, for sure," Logano said after his eighth-place finish. "The finishing order kind of showed that." For Keselowski , the sixth-place result continued his upward trajectory for the season as he has improved on his finish in each race. After a crash in the season-opening Daytona 500 led to his day ending early and a 41st-place result, he has rolled off three consecutive top-10s with a ninth-place finish at Atlanta and a seventh-place finish at Las Vegas. The Phoenix finish also saw him rise seven spots in the point standings. Still, unlike last year, when the No. 2 crew came out firing with a win and three straight top-three finishes, something seems to be lacking in the early going. Keselowski said he knows exactly what it is. "We just have to find some more speed," he said. "That is the common theme." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
2012 Sprint Cup champion optimistic about remaining Speedweeks slate Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge MORE: Full Sprint Unlimited results DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Brad Keselowski didn't get much chance to test out his Team Penske No. 2 Ford in race trim in Saturday night's season-opening Sprint Unlimited exhibition. After just 23 laps, Keselowski's car skidded to a halt in a mangled heap, leaving him with a last-place finish in the invitational 25-car field at Daytona International Speedway. RELATED: See the best photos from Saturday's race According to the former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champ, there wasn't much to see. "The wall," Keselowski said, regarding his line of sight. "I don't know. I really need to see a replay to give an honest answer. The car is tore up so we are out but it was fast, so that was good." The first melee of the 75-lapper was sparked by a collision between Kyle Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet and Keselowski's No. 2 in the short chute before the start-finish line. Though Larson, last year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year, was able to continue, Keselowski's car shuffled down into the trioval grass before making hard contact with the outside wall. "Sorry, man. Larson came up on me," Keselowski radioed to his crew, before making the mandatory trip to the infield care center. Keselowski was uninjured, evaluated and released. Though his stint in the race was a short one, Keselowski gave a thumbs-up to how his car felt in race conditions. "Well, there wasn't much different about this package," he said. "It is more the intermediate and short track stuff but I thought it was good. It was pretty racey out there." Lead some laps and then wrecked; that's how plate racin goes... Happy and proud of my guys for the fast car. Time to focus on #DAYTONA500 — Brad Keselowski (@ keselowski ) February 15, 2015 Keselowski hit the showers early for a 25th-place finish, well before the non-points race drew to a close. But though he was resigned to his Saturday night fate, he said he's optimistic for the balance of the schedule, which culminates in the Feb. 22 Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX). "It's part of racing at Daytona," said Keselowski , who led two laps after starting fourth. "Really happy with the speed of the Miller Lite Ford. We've got a lot of racing left in Speedweeks, this is just a preliminary and we'll be ready to go when it counts in the 500." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Brad Keselowski takes the lead on the final lap of a Green, White, Checkered finish to win the Auto Club 400.
Brad Keselowski talks about the wild finish to the Auto Club 400 and the gutsy call made by Paul Wolfe to take four tires at the end of the race.
Brad Keselowski celebrates in Victory Lane after winning his first race at Auto Club Speedway.
Albert: 2012 series champ back to take-no-prisoners mindset RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota If Brad Keselowski clinches his second title at NASCAR's highest level this season, might his introduction as reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion draw the rarest of receptions? Polite, obligatory applause more befitting for a golf gallery. Or worse, crickets. Worse yet, boos. Two years ago at the finale of Champion's Week ceremonies in Las Vegas, Keselowski struck a gracious note in his speech before an audience of his peers, with the unscripted line "I want to be your leader" becoming the night's defining sound bite. Fast forward to 2014 and it's a much different, take-no-prisoners tone coming from the driver of the Team Penske No. 2 Ford. Keselowski may well hoist the Sprint Cup trophy by season's end, but barring a dramatic, 11th-hour mending of the fences over the next few weeks, the method will be by winning races instead of winning over friends. Still, he has to get there first -- a task made much more difficult when you're potentially perceived in the garage as Jean Girard, Russ Wheeler and Chick Hicks all rolled into one. During his first title run, Keselowski was regarded as an upstart, wielding the same brash, speak-first-and-apologize-later approach that has become especially familiar in recent weeks. As wins became more prevalent, the garage became acquainted with Keselowski's outspoken nature and, to some degree, welcomed it. At the same awards banquet in 2012, Tony Stewart offered his congratulations in prophetic words that ring just as true today: "I don't think Brad has learned to be cautious yet. Hopefully that won't bite him like it has a lot of drivers in the past. But it's refreshing. It's nice to see somebody that just speaks from the heart and isn't guarded when he speaks." Keselowski never lost his knack for candor, but last season, he lost out on the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs and won just once -- a subpar year that he attributed to straying from the aggressive mindset that had worked so well in his championship season. That mindset is back in a big way. Last Sunday's major dust-up at Texas Motor Speedway marked the second incident in the previous four races with Keselowski at the center of the conflict. In the process, he shifted four of the other seven remaining title-eligible drivers in the Chase solidly over to the "enemy" side of his ledger, a list that now includes Jeff Gordon , Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth . Hamlin figures prominently in that group, not only because of their deep-rooted antagonism from years past but their most recent flare-up post-race at Charlotte Motor Speedway last month. In a frank, unflinching appearance on NASCAR's weekly teleconference Wednesday, Hamlin flatly admitted that, "it's tough to win a championship if nobody likes you." Keselowski's current focus on the championship race is so single-minded that being well-liked is far down the priority list. He's said he's "comfortable" with upsetting the status quo and rankling the feelings of others if winning is part of the trade-off. While Keselowski has embraced wearing the black hat, Hamlin said he's come to realize the merits of discretion as his career has grown. "If you ask me do you want a championship trophy or do you want the respect of your peers, I will take the respect from my peers because that trophy, they can't put in my casket," Hamlin said. "What's the fun of a NASCAR party that nobody shows up to?" Keselowski isn't running for office, nor is he trying to win a popularity contest. With a majority of the Eliminator 8 field against him and the rest at least neutral, the Chase's delegate from Michigan has faint chance at the ballot box. What Keselowski does have is a loyal teammate in Chase driver Joey Logano , a venerable team owner in Roger Penske that supports his hard-nosed racing, and top-notch equipment. That just might be enough. The jury's still out on whether Keselowski reverses course and makes heartfelt apologies for his rivals' ruffled feathers. Saying "I'm sorry" is a lot easier to stomach when you're sitting at the awards gala's head table, but it's also a lot easier to hear over the sound of crickets. With two races left, expect more chirping of a different sort. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Reddick to wheel No. 19 truck full-time; Theriault added to No. 29 team lineup Brad Keselowski Racing made its driver lineup complete for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2015, announcing the return of Tyler Reddick and the addition of Austin Theriault. BKR will continue to field two Ford entries for the full 23-race schedule. Reddick, who drove for the team in 16 races last year, will wheel the No. 19 on a full-time basis in 2015. Driving duties for the team's No. 29 Ford will be divided between driver/owner Keselowski ; his Sprint Cup Series teammate, Joey Logano ; Ryan Blaney , last year's series runner-up; and truck series newcomer Theriault, who is scheduled for a 13-race slate next year. The organization also announced that Doug Randolph (No. 19) and Chad Kendrick (No. 29) would return as the team's crew chief. Broken Bow Records and Cequent Performance will share primary sponsorship of the No. 19 Ford, and Cooper Standard will return as primary backer of the No. 29 team. Reddick, who turned 19 years old Sunday, netted two pole positions and three top-five finishes in his partial schedule for BKR last season. Both poles and two of the top-fives came in the final five races of 2014. "The way we closed out the 2014 season was quite a statement for us as a team," Reddick said in a release provided by the team. "We were able to do some really good things toward the end of the year. It was a great way to end the season and keep the momentum rolling into 2015 as we compete for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. It's great to work with everyone at Cequent and Broken Bow Records again this coming season. I can't wait to get started." Theriault, 20, made his NASCAR national series debut last year, running three races for JR Motorsports in what is now the XFINITY Series. The Maine native spent 2012 and 2013 with the Keselowski team's driver development program in Super Late Model competition. "One of the things I wanted to do at BKR is give talented young drivers an opportunity," Keselowski said. "Both Tyler and Austin are perfect examples of what I'm trying to accomplish. We saw a lot of improvement with Tyler in 2014. He really stepped up his game during the second half of the season and I certainly think he can compete for wins and challenge for a championship in 2015. Austin was part of our driver development program so for him to have an opportunity to drive for us in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is pretty special." Team owner Keselowski won his first career Camping World Truck Series race last season at Bristol. It was his first win in the series in 62 starts. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule